I want a crowd funded news narration and aggregation service

I do not enjoy reading long form writing on my laptop or iPhone. It’s not ergonomic, notifications distract me, and the potential of something interesting happening elsewhere seduces my focus away.

I wish I could sit back, enjoy my coffee, and do nothing but listen to the articles I’d like to consume. That’s a lifestyle I can appreciate, one which I’d pay for.

I have an idea that could make this a reality. I want a crowd funded news narration and aggregation service. The top–voted posts of the day are turned into professionally narrated voice recordings. The narrations would be funded by the upvotes themselves. Each upvote would pledge 50 cent (or some sort of minimum) to the narration cost. One hundred upvotes would equate to $50, which is more than enough to cover a 15 minute narration. The target funding would be directly proportionate to the length of the article in question. Additionally, and this is where it gets exciting, even after the narration is originally funded and recorded, future users could purchase the narration at it’s original minimum cost; thus creating a huge ever–growing archive of well structured sellable audio files.

All the narrations would be fully searchable because the original text is known. The same model could apply to lecture notes, science papers, magazine and newspaper articles, books, assembly instructions, wikipedia entries, blog posts, SEC filings, any long form text of any description. As the business grew, I could see partnerships forming with content outlets like Scientific American or The New Yorker, or MIT or the White House Press Office. I could see these narrations embedded in websites and apps. The publishing industry is thirsty, and this could be the water it needs.

This is a pain–point I’ve tried to solve before, but machine voices were robotic and boring. I found myself loosing focus, and thus the problem wasn’t solved at all. I believe there’s real value in this idea, and a very clear path to profit. I’ve a ton of auxiliary points to make, but as the length of this post is becoming ironic, I don’t want to loose your focus. And so the question remains, who’s going to build this?

In fact, I’m pretty sure someone could knock together a prototype with the HackerNews RSS and the VoiceBunny API. I’m happy to help, just let me know what you need. I’m on Twitter.


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